RKO Bushwick Theatre

1396 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NY 11221

Unfavorite 13 people favorited this theater

Showing 151 - 175 of 415 comments

LouisRugani on December 17, 2008 at 8:47 am

A few new movie palaces are being built, mostly in the suburbs. As an example, there’s the MUVICO in Rosemont, Illinois.

MPol on December 17, 2008 at 8:00 am

hi, Panzer65.

Thanks for your reply. Which type of theatre(s) are you referring to when you say that the more modern theatres are thriving well in many urban areas due to our tanked economy? The multiplexes? Just curious, because, from what I understand, many, if not most of the multiplex cinemas here in the United States generally are located in more suburban areas, in somewhat more secluded areas just right off of the big interstate highways.

If, you’re referring to the movie palaces (what few are left here in the United States), then, I think that many, if not most of the remaining movie palaces, are located in urban areas.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Panzer65.

Bway on December 17, 2008 at 4:51 am

Moondog. I am sure graffiti may hit the theater sometimes, as with any building, which may have been what happened when the google maps people went by, but its usually removed promptly. I have been by the building as recently as this past November, and there was no graffiti on it, and am by almost monthly, and really never noticed any. That’s not to say it never happens, but is usually removed soon after.
But that all being said, the street view images are great, and I estimate them to be from last Autumn and Summer for most of Bushwick’s streets, and that grafitti is most definitely not there anymore. It seems that some kids had gotten on top of the scafolding there.
But anyway, here’s a ground level photo that I took this past March 27, 2008 of the RKO Bushwick Location. This is AFTER the google street view images were taken, which were taken August-October 2007:

Click Here for March 2008 Image

Panzer65 on December 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Thank you for your reply concerning preserving old movie palaces.
I do agree mult- plex theaters are nowhere near the experience of attending a film at a traditional theater, one gets a sense of being in an extraordinary venue,while enjoying the great American pastime there. However from what I hear, prior to the unfortunate
demise of the economy, these modern theaters do thrive well in many urban areas.

MPol on December 15, 2008 at 9:52 pm

That’s right on the money, Panzer65. They not only want to raze beautiful old movie palaces and buid condos or stores, but multiplex cinemas as well. (However, I’m not sure of how well multiplexes will do, given the fact that a number of them have piled on debt, etc., )

Moondog on December 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Google has revised its website. If you go onto Google Maps and type in 1396 Broadway Brooklyn NY then click on the “street view” box in the lower right it will walk you right up to the theater. Notice the construction walkway on the B'way side of the theater. Don’t know if they’re planning renovations or just preventing old facade from coming down on pedestrians. (You’ll also see quite a bit of graffiti on that side of the building).
This website is especially great if you want to visit your old block.

johndereszewski on December 15, 2008 at 5:46 pm

I think the fact that the Bushwick is being positively used as a school helps ensure that it is well maintained and that any defacement is promptly addressed and corrected. This is a great win – win situation.

Panzer65 on December 15, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Amazing how beautiful an old theater can look when it receives “Tender Loving Care”. That’s why its such a crime that all this society wants to do is raze them and build condos or stores.

Bway on December 15, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Yeah, I have no problem getting out of the car in Bushwick. It’s not the neighborhood it was in the 1980’s, or even the 1990’s.
As for the theater, I have gotten out here many of times, as sometimes when I am in the area, I often grab a quick lunch the McDonalds next to the theater. the condition of the theater is good, it looks just as good on ground level as it does on the upper levels seen here. There’s no graffiti or anything on it, or even near it.
It probably hasn’t looked as good as it does now since the 50’s….but of course, it’s interior is all gone.

PeterKoch on December 15, 2008 at 11:43 am

I think Bway has gotten out of his car quite frequently in the daytime in Bushwick, but I’ll let him post for himself on that.

PeterKoch on December 15, 2008 at 11:32 am

Yes, indeed. I know what you mean, but the expression “drive by shooting” has unpleasant connotations in Bushwick, though I appreciate your humor !

Such an act of photography by Bway would be the BEST kind of “drive by shooting” !

PeterKoch on December 15, 2008 at 11:23 am

I’m glad to see that it does ! Hopefully, it hasn’t yet been defaced with graffiti at street level.

PeterKoch on December 15, 2008 at 11:17 am

Thanks, Warren, for that info.

Bway, that’s a beautiful new image from nycsubway.org ! It almost makes the former RKO Bushwick Theatre look like a Greek temple !

Bway on December 15, 2008 at 11:08 am

A pretty good view of the RKO Bushwick Theater can be seen in this photo taken from the elevated Gates Ave station:


Bway on November 25, 2008 at 9:31 am

Yes, and the marquee was still there in the Believer’s footage too. You can also get a quick glimpse of some of the interior, which was already in pretty rough shape by 1979 when the film was made. The seats were still there though. They may have also “roughed” the interior up a bit for the scene too. It was a scene where there was a human sacrifice on the stage of the RKO Bushwick, when the cops arrive.

LouisRugani on November 25, 2008 at 3:17 am

The foyer with its poster cases can be seen in ‘The Believers’ (1979).

Bway on November 24, 2008 at 7:21 pm

I don’t know if it’s been posted here before, but I have seen that image. I believe that is a photo from after it closed as a theater, but also may be from just after the Pilgrim Church also left the theater after it’s very short use of the building. The Pilgrim Church for some reason left the RKO Bushwick when the Loews Gates Theater became available, and they remain in the Loews Gates to this day, which has been restored. Perhaps they got a better deal on the Loews Gates…who knows….but either way, once they left, it sealed the fate of the RKO Buhwick, which began it’s nearly 3 decade progression into shambles before being gutted and converted to the school it is now around 2003.

ebeach on November 24, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Thanks Warren. Those plans sure help my memory quite a bit. Do you know to what level of the theater those staircases reached? Mezzanine, Loge, Upper or lower balconies?

Bway on November 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm

I wish there was a photo of the lobby of the Bushwick available somewhere. There are no shortage of exterior photos of the Bushwick on the net, but interior shots are hard to come by.

PeterKoch on November 24, 2008 at 12:02 pm

See Warren’s post of October 24 2008 for a floor plan.

ebeach on November 24, 2008 at 11:59 am

Thanks Warren, My memory must be poor cause I only remember the single staircase on the right side of the theater looking into the Lobby. More reasonably there were two staircases because they would have given a balanced appearance. I do remember the double staircases in the Loew’s Gates. They were not as high but were also quite grand. As you say the Staircase(s) came from high..at least four stories". Did you enter the staircases from the highest balcony seats in the theater? Oh boy how a plan or a photo could jog my memory.

johndereszewski on November 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Warren, thanks for your last comment. I guess the architect faced a real problem that provided a dearth of length and width – but a tremendous amount of height, and was able to turn a lemon into lemonade. Yet another example of McElfatrick’s creativity.

Panzer65 on November 21, 2008 at 1:25 pm

It is sad however that the interior could not be saved, according to previous posts, there are no interior remnants of the theater.

PeterKoch on November 21, 2008 at 8:52 am

Thanks, John D. and Warren. Warren, your description of the RKO Bushwick’s lobby is about what I would have expected of such a large and beautiful theatre.

johndereszewski on November 20, 2008 at 4:52 pm

The fact that this “flat-ironed” like building site had its entrance at the top of the iron strongly implies that there just was not alot of space for a grand lobby. The glory of the Bushwick would occur as the lobby opened out to support the grand theater. But the available space for the lobby was quite sparse.

In short, the architect made brilliant use of the available space – but there was just so much space that was available.